Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico: 1st Place
Puerto Rico is the closest to home event on tour Kelly has ever had, and it’s the place he gets to wrap up his tenth. Stephanie Gilmore wins her fourth World Title on Tuesday, foreshadowing Kelly’s success later in the week for Kelly. Tuesday also brought one of the greatest losses in surfing as well with the tragic passing of Andy Irons, the only one who ever challenged Kelly. At the AI tribute paddle out, Kelly had this to say:
“Andy was an absolutely gifted individual. I’m lucky to have known him and had the times we had together. I feel blessed that we worked through the differences we had and I was able to learn what I’m made of because of Andy. We enjoyed many quiet times together with our girls in the last year and I got to know a happy, funny, innocent kid who was happy to live every second with the people he loved. I’m so sad.”
The Search postpones till Friday in memory of Andy. Once things get going again Kelly has a match-up with local wildcard Dylan Graves in Round 3. The Puerto Ricans go crazy for Dylan, but he falls to the champ. No matter though, the Puerto Ricans are excited and hope to see Kelly win his 10th on their island.
In the Round 4 no losers heat Adriano beat Kelly but commits a crucial interference on Kelly, giving Kelly the ticket to the quarters. Figures they would end up meeting again in the quarters for the World Title decisive heat for Kelly. The champ walks down the stairs for his quarters match-up surrounded by Puerto Ricans cheering him on. Who wouldn’t want to see history made on their island? Chants of “Kelly!” all over the beach.
Kelly started things off quick by backdooring a barrel for a 9 and then followed that up with a longer double barrel for a 9.87 that makes Taj’s 10 in the previous heat look like a quick in-out. Kelly then followed that up with a clean, no-grab 360 air reverse. Five minutes into the heat Kelly has 18.87 points, while Adriano has yet to catch a wave.
With things pretty much wrapped up, barring an Adriano barrage of two 10s, Kelly high-fives Jordy while on a wave, because Jordy was in the next heat. And miraculously the sun comes out at the tail-end of Kelly’s heat.
Kelly gets mobbed coming in after the hooter, mobbed even more than usual. In the post heat interview Kelly has this to say, “If it wasn’t for Andy I wouldn’t be in this position right now. I want to dedicate this to Andy and my family.I don’t know how it all came together the way it did this year. At the time I really wanted to win that event [Teahupoo] but having had Andy win that contest it was really special to surf that last heat with him this year.”
Then on to the semis match-up with Taj. Most competitors would’ve had a few beers and enjoyed the moment. Not Kelly though, he wanted the victory as well after seeing Steph Gilmore earlier in the week raising both the ASP Cup and the Rip Curl Search Globe. He started off a little slow and Taj seemed to have things in the back, but Slater fought back withbBack-to-back 8.17’s to steal the lead from Taj. After making it into the semis Kelly said, “That was payback for Taj smashing me at Pipe last year,” chuckling as if it were a joke.
In the final against Bede Durbidge Kelly continues pushing things going after his 45th ASP World Tour win. Kelly nailed a 10 with his signature swooping cutback snapping the nose back into the pocket, a big buried rail turn, and finished with a no handed 360 air revo. Of course the champ had to get a 10 when he won his 10th in 2010. Remember, the theme of 10 is revolving around Kelly’s whole life right now.
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